Spring cleaning is vital for various reasons. When we get rid of things we don’t need, we save time and money. We can actually find what we do need when we need it, instead of searching for hours (or having 10 different tape dispensers, scissors, staplers or notepads that we’ve stored all over the place). We have less to clean and maintain. We keep ourselves safe from mold and dust, which can exacerbate allergies.
Spring cleaning is like “a caterpillar emerging as a butterfly—it feels great to spread your wings after a dark winter being in a cocoon,” according to Carrie Higgins, who pens the Making Lemonade blog. It can inspire a personal reawakening, a fresh start to set up healthier, more nourishing habits, she said. “I’ve found cleaning and decluttering opens up actual space in my home, which leads to space for calmness, mindfulness and creativity to enter.”
But this doesn’t mean we’re actually excited about it. The process of deep cleaning and decluttering isn’t exactly enjoyable. Most of us dread it. Because it requires time and effort which we might not have—or want to expend. But you can make the process fun—or at least less terrible and tedious. Here are some ideas:
- Think about how you’d like to feel in your home. Maybe even jot down some adjectives. Think about how you feel now in each room, what isn’t working, what’s standing in your way of feeling the way you want to feel and doing what you want to do—which might be less cleaning, more writing, a relaxing nighttime routine. Start here. And regularly remind yourself that this is what you’re working toward.
- Put on your favorite upbeat music, and set a timer to clean up each room or each category (e.g., clothes, dishes, paperwork, towels, sheets) in a certain amount of time.
- Listen to audiobooks when you’re doing tasks that don’t require your complete attention. Pick books you’ve really been wanting to read—or pick page-turners.
- Invent your own silly games, especially if you have kids. Set a timer to search for lost socks. Create a competition for who cleans up the dirtiest, grimiest spots. Turn spring cleaning into a time that your family can have fun, laugh, and bond, even though you’re tackling chores. Ask your kids to invent their own games around cleaning and decluttering. Ask them to play DJ, and play their favorite songs.
- Listen to podcasts when deep cleaning. Rachel Jonat, who writes about simplicity and minimalism on her website The Minimalist Mom, loves the Honest Money Conversations podcast, which has “thoughtful conversations about money and consumption.” She also likes Slate’s Mom and Dad are Fighting. It “makes the tough work go by faster.” Another excellent option is Stuff You Missed in History Class. And if you’re looking for something on psychology, listen to The Psych Central Show and A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and a Podcast. To get inspired, it also can help to listen to podcasts on decluttering.
- Make it easy (or easier). “Put everything in a bucket and cart it from room to room,” Higgins said. “That way it’s easy to start and easy to put away, too.” You also can find simple, effective tips at http://clutterbug.me/ and http://www.doitonadimeblog.com/. Both sites also have super simple (and cheap) recipes for making your own cleaners.
- Create meaningful rewards. “If you’re decluttering and paring down, set a money target for selling items and use that money for something enjoyable like a night out or as savings for a vacation,” said Jonat, author of several books, including her latest title, The Joy of Doing Nothing. You also might reward yourself by replacing old sheets, towels, and other items with new, nicer versions, Higgins said.
- Get creative with how you organize what’s left (after you’ve purged, recycled, and donated many of your items). For instance, use over-the-door shoe pocket organizers to hold art supplies; and display mementoes, such as shells, ticket stubs or beach glass in glass jars or vases, recommends Higgins in her book, Organization Hacks: Over 350 Simple Solutions to Organize Your Home in No Time!
Spring cleaning is likely not your idea of a fun weekend. For most of us the idea sounds exhausting. But you can infuse some fun and creativity into the process—and you certainly know you’ll enjoy the end result.